tv Q A CSPAN July 15, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
military historian anthony beevor. after that, question time with british prime minister david cameron. tomorrow, washington senator patty murray discusses ways to reduce the deficit and encourage economic growth. live from the brookings institution, beginning 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> this week, the noted historian antony beevor discusses his newly released historical narrative titled "the second world war." >> antony beevor, author of "the second world war." when you started thinking about this book, what is your
objective? >> it was embarrassing. i was focused on particular battles, stalingrad, berlin, so forth. i realized that i did not understand enough about the way the whole conflict fit together. it was terribly important, really, to acknowledge that. the duty of the historian is to understand and try to convey that understanding. the way that the war in the pacific affected the war in europe, the way the war in western europe was affected by the soviet front -- one that does need to understand the truly global aspect of the conflict. >> what kind of military experience have you had? >> i was a regular officer. i was in a cavalry regiment. that meant we had tanks in germany during the cold war. on the east german frontier.
it was a good preparation. i am not trying to say that every military historian has to serve in the forces, but i do think it is important that one understand the mentality. so many people think and army is a cold, mechanical organization. it is actually an intensely emotional organization. there are some women military historians to have been brilliant in what they have produced, but that is because they have put themselves in to the boots of soldiers, understood what they are about. rather than trying to impose theories from outside on the organization. >> what was that? >> we often did to exercises with cadets from west point. >> you said that 60 million people died in world war ii. can you break that down? >> many say that it is more than 60. some people argue that china was 40 million.
the soviet union, 26 million is the generally accepted figure. of those, 9 million military, 17 million civilians. it was one of the first wars in history where the civilian casualties completely outstripped the military casualties. >> how did you start this story? when did world war ii starred in your opinion? >> it is an interesting debate. everybody has their own views of the second world war shaped by their experiences and memories. the united states -- the war began in december 1941. for the russians, it began in june, 1941 with the german invasion of the soviet union. most europeans think of
september 1939 and the german invasion of poland as the part. for the chinese, it started in 1937 with the japanese, the sino-japanese war. there are many different versions. the important thing to understand about the second world war was that it was not just a conglomeration of conflict. there were the state-of-state, the great powers fight each other, but also there was an element of international civil war. it was largely this international civil war throughout the world between fascism and communism which led to the civil wars after that, the greek civil war, the chinese civil war, and then, ultimately, to korea and vietnam.
>> let me show you some video done by the american war department. frank capra was the director. this gives us a sense of the people. >> the pagan pageantry of leaders from all over germany -- hypnotized, they were members of a master race. this film will deal with at one of the nazi bid for power, the most fantastic claim in all recorded history. hitler had seen hirohito grab manchuria and other territory from the chinese. he had watched mussolini get away with the rape of ethiopia. he had seen the democratic world wither away while these aggressions were going on. and he smiled. collective action to enforce peace -- the only weapon they had had broken down. it was time for the nazis to start crossing borders. it was time for hitler to put his plan into action. >> you are right, on page 746, i will jump to the end -- you
write, "he screamed, then collapsed in a chair." a different image of adolf hitler than we saw there. what happened at the end? >> hitler had been defying reality. he was in total denial, psychologically. he realized by 1944-1945 that the war would end in berlin. at that particular state, when he burst into tears and collapses, he realizes that what he has done is brought the whole of germany to destruction. in his social darwinian obsession that somehow it was right for the strong to win, he even said that the german people had not proven themselves
strong enough. power now belongs to the soviets because, in fact, they had proved stronger and conquered not to germany. there is an appalling perversity that he was willing to bring his people down with him in a collective suicide because he was determined himself to die. where was he at the end? >> this was in berlin in april as the russians advanced in on the city. in 1945. >> what were the exact circumstances of the end of his life, the last few days? >> there was a strong element of black comedy, a grotesque farce. hitler was still trying to rally his troops to save him.
they were trying to escape to the american lines so they would not be sent to soviet camps in siberia. he was still ranting and screaming about the jews and the way they have brought war upon the world. this was his complete reversal of cause and effect, which was characteristic of him and characteristic of the german extreme right. in those last -- that very last day, he married eva braun because she had partly insisted on a dying with him. this was, in a way, her reward. he was also, like stalin, fascinated by movies. in some ways, he saw himself as
almost a worldwide film director, directing the script. he did not want to fly out of berlin to die in an alpine retreat. to him, the downfall should come in berlin. that would make a more dramatic and to his whole life. >> how long had he been with eva braun, and where did they get married? >> they were married in the bunker. this is the bunker underneath the chancellery in berlin. one feels slightly sorry for the official who was suddenly dragged in from his position defending the city. an order came into mary hitler and eva, to proclaim them free of hereditary diseases, it must have been intimidating. then, they had that sort of strange reception. upstairs in the chancellery, it was frankly a drunken orgy. >> what has been done with that bunker today? >> the russians tried to blow it up.
it was in the occupied zone. but it was 5 meters of concrete covering the roof. part of it collapse. they just covered bridge over. after the collapse of the berlin wall in 1989, the west german government decided they should do something with that area. they would excavate -- they realized that the bunker was still their underground. they then were terrified it would become a shrine to neo- nazis. it was rapidly covered over again. it is now sort of camouflage as a park. i remember climbing up the palisades to have the look and when it was recently exposed. >> you did not see inside? >> you could not get inside. two people claimed they got into the bunker from a tunnel from one of the canals that was an
escape tunnel, but i am dubious about the story. >> you write about the time period. who was heading towards the city at the end, in 1945? >> you have, in the west, basically the british in the north and canadians in the north. they -- all the way down the river elbe you had the american army. they gave the order to halt as the russians, the soviets, the first ukraine in front, or in circle in berlin in a massive operation. we discovered in the russian archives that the reason why stall and was so insistent on surrounding berlin first was that he was terrified that the americans were going to break through. he wanted to get the nuclear material and the nuclear scientists who were in berlin at that particular time, because he wanted them for the soviet attempt to create nuclear weapons. he knew about the manhattan project in the united states and the creation of the atomic
bombs going ahead here in the united states. >> go back to the moment that adolf hitler was getting near the end. who was in the bunker with him, and what was his plan? >> hitler, by then, had virtually no plan. his armies are trying to escape to the west. that is when he collapsed. he realized that it was ending. his main objective was simply not to be captured alive by the russians. he was afraid of being paraded through moscow in a cage, being ridiculed. he was determined to die. eva braun was determined to die with him. in the bunker, and i spoke in an interview to some of the people who were there in the bunker with him, there were various generals and others. some were allowed to escape, some certainly did escape. others had to wait until hitler himself had killed himself and
eva braun. also until goebbels, the propaganda minister, had killed his children and his wife. they had to escape russian minds. very few make it. others were caught and committed suicide before they were captured. >> who were you able to talk to? >> 1 extremely reliable witness was the chief of staff to general krebs, the commander in
chief of the german staff. i must say, his accounts, also the account of another frequent visitor. i also interviewed another person. it was an extraordinary experience, sitting in his parlor in berlin, drinking tea. he showed us his photograph albums, photographs he had taken himself, had their playing with his german shepherd, things like that. he showed these so proudly. when hitler's body was taken to be set on fire in the garden along with the body of eva braun, he recalled how one of the guards had been getting very drug upstairs. they were drinking up the last of the art of before the russians arrived. he staggered and said, the cheap is on fire, do you want a look? that sums up this is gracious
and in of such an appalling regime. >> specifically, how did he kill himself? how did she die? >> she took poison. they had cyanide capsules. hitler also had a small pistol. basically, he took the capsule and shot himself as well to make sure. >> why did she not shoot herself? >> she did not want to disfigure her self, even in death. >> one of the things i saw here, this is the first time i've ever seen her referred to as eva hitler.
did you do this on purpose? >> she insisted on it. when they called her fraulein braun, she corrected them. in the marriage register, you can actually see that she signed herself eva b, the b in braun, then crossed it out and wrote hitler. >> what is new in the book? what did you discover? >> one of the major elements is that these were materials passed on to me after my book on stalingrad. often you finish a book and suddenly a lot of interesting material arrives. the academic who headed the
second world war historian association in moscow passed a lot of material from the kgb archives in the old nkvd about stalingrad. material came out about when they surround sandra. they had a huge operation to tie down german forces there. not only did they send six soviet armies into the attack without any artillery support, they even betrayed the plans in advance. this was one of the most cynical, appalling, ruthless acts in the history of warfare. stalin is prepared to sacrifice that to make sure the operation works. in the far east, one of the things that shocked me was to discover that the japanese used cannibalism as an actual strategy.
prisoners of war and locals. using them as human cattle, slaughtering them one by one for their meat. this was a strategy. they called it self- sufficiency, when they were cut off by the u.s. navy and did not have supplies. it was happening in china as well. in 1945, during the investigation of the australian war crimes commission, american authorities discovered that was the case. they suppressed that for a very long time. the reason was that most families who had had a relative
who died in a japanese imprisonment would be psychologically traumatized, wondering whether their relatives had been killed that way. >> was this the same instant you refer to when it general macarthur suppressed the prosecution of somebody after the war? >> yes. he suppressed the prosecution of the officers involved in what was called unit 731, biological and chemical warfare development sites in manchuria, harbin. the point was, in exchange for the information, and there were a lot of dubious deals done at the end of the war, whether it was german rocket scientists or the japanese scientists involved in these appalling experiments on prisoners -- they escaped prosecution. some of them were brought to the united states and used for their knowledge. >> this is an 850-page book. there are an enormous number of names and battles. how you do this? >> with a certain amount of difficulty and a good deal of panic in the early stage. >> when did it start? >> there was a condition for a long time, but i started at about 3.5 years ago. the vital thing was structure. the marshalling of the material. once that fell into place, my plan and start to subside. until that point, it was worrying i had taken on too much. you are simply overloaded, overwhelmed with the amount of material and detail. >> 50 chapters. why did you decide to lay it out
the way you did? how would you describe that? >> i always believed in a narrative history. i think that one needs to have that chronological -- unlike a thematic construction, or you may have part of the book about the positions, part about the war in europe, something like that. i do believe it needs to be in chronological order as a narrative, not just from a point of view of being easier to understand, but also that that is the way you can show the effects of one theatre upon
another. at critical moments. and measure changes in the course of the war. military history, thank god, is an anglo-saxon tradition, going all the way back to the 18th century. there is typically the german version of history, which has been their idea of scientific history. history cannot be tested in a laboratory. >> give us the atmosphere where we would have found you. give us the setup -- where you would write and how you would go about putting together this information. >> i had help, as usual, from my colleagues of many years. one colleague who i have known
for 17 years -- she knows exactly that kind of material i wanted in the russian archives. she provided material from that direction and germany. another colleague, who i've worked with for a long time, was also during that period when that material arrived, obviously it would be in different files. i could copy trip across -- to begin, there were nearly 60 chapters. i could ease and down or whatever. you'll never know how it will really work out. sometimes you get so much material from the archives. in one chapter, i had 110 pages of notes. that was from the archives alone. this is where you have to do
your triage of information and materials, what you drop out and put into reserves. then you can go back later and check to see if there is anything very important that you should maybe go back and. it is the only way. when you think of the old days, when you had to work with card index systems on an electric typewriter, photocopying, the rest of it -- i do not think a book like that -- it would have taken at least two years. >> where were you physically located to write? >> in england, in the countryside in canterbury. i have a barn which i have converted into a library, with books all the way around. the important piece of equipment is a ping-pong table -- spreading out the maps and
piles of photocopies from all the different archives. otherwise, into small of a room, it would descend into chaos. >> what time of day to you right - write and on what? >> on a laptop. i will start as soon as i can, 9:00. i will carry on. i will go and have a walk at some point, then i will carry on until about 7:30 in the evening. >> how you do research? do you finish, then write, or you do it as you go? >> ideally, yes. i think there was an argument that he should spend several months on the first paragraph and the book or write itself. i am not saying that is necessarily the case here.
it was in the past. i felt strongly that he should not start to write into the finish research. on this book, i knew i would be overwhelmed by some of the material. i need to change the method and start writing at an earlier stage. once it gets going, it is important to establish your voice, your rhythm, and everything in the early part. if you do not take the early part of the book right, you can keep writing, but you will not do that rhythm and voice that you need. >> we go back to the beginning in a moment. this is a piece of video. i want your assessment of how important this thing is that we will see happen is. >> the leaders of france and britain are desperately striving to avoid war. they meet in the anxious leaders at munich. on september 29, in return for hitler's guarantee of world peace, chamberlain calls on czechoslovakia to give up the sudetenland. in czechoslovakia, the pact was greeted by riots. but he returned to france to cheers from a relief french people. in britain, a happy chamberlain came back and proclaimed he had achieved "peace -- peace in our time."
one of the most tragic and ironic scenes in all of history. >> this morning, i have another talk with the german chancellor. here is the document that bears his name as well as mine. these are the agreements signed last night, symbolic of the desire of our people never to go to war with one another again. >> how many people at that time did not believe what chamberlain was telling them? >> the vast majority did believe it. that was true of france as well. one must remember that those countries, particularly france, which had such grievous losses in the first world war, could not really believe that any
other country would want to repeat the horrors of the first world war. they completely misunderstood hitler, as well as the determination of many people to correct the mistake of 1918, a german defeat, and the attitude that germans had not been defeated, only by a trick. one of the common elements of 1938 and today is that the populations of western europe were severely misinformed by their leaders on what the real threat was. that is certainly true today. i do not think that leaders in europe can actually tell the population of that country quite how desperate things are. the danger, the acceleration and panic, would be worse. the difference to 20 two is that the threat of war tends to unify and nation, but the threat of economic collapse is more divisive. in 1938, the vocal minority of
churchill and others, who knew very clearly what the threat was, they were treated as cassandras, warmongers even. churchill did not arrive in power until may 10, 1940, which would be the very day that the germans launched their invasion of the low countries of holland, belgium, and france. >> sudetenland is where? >> it is the most western part of czechoslovakia. people refer to it as a cigar stuck in the mouth of germany. there was a large german population there. what has to remember, at that time, how many germans there were spread around different parts of europe. they had been under the german empires, but also the austro- hungarian empire.
hitler's argument at the time was that i want to bring the germans back within the reich. many people thought he was only trying to get the germans back. they had a certain sympathy, or were at least not prepared to fight back. it would be a price to pay for world peace. soon after, when hitler occupied the rest of czechoslovakia the following march, it became clear he was not just interested in taking the germans back, but wanted to seize the territory of other countries. >> why do you think chamberlain thought he would live up to the signature on that paper? >> doug cooper said of chamberlain, as lord mayor of
birmingham, his previous position; nobody had ever broken their word to him. he could not imagine hitler breaking his word. he was a very good chancellor, chamberlain, but as you see from the edwardian mustache and umbrella. he was unable to face up to the cleaning ruthlessness of the regime. >> if you had to pick one human being out of this that you could write a book about, which
would it, is? who would be your first choice? >> too many people have already written about churchill. i would not attempt to do that. i did not see myself as necessarily a biographer of that particular period. i have always been fascinated by eisenhower, his qualities and some of his weaknesses as well. he is a fascinating character. one sees these various limitations of leaders at a particular time. i have always been struck by the way that many of these commanders, particularly on the allied side, not in the armies of totalitarian regimes, the commanders had spent most of their time in complete isolation and anonymity. suddenly they became film stars. they could only make a personality cult of these commanders. most of them were much too modest and a remarkable commanders, and were totally
unfazed. one or two, certainly macarthur and to some degree patent and montgomery, did almost see themselves as the film stars or presidential candidates. vanity was dangerous. >> one small question. you say that montgomery had photographs of himself he would pass out? >> you have to remember that britain was short of military heroes at that time in senior ranks. the general ship had been unimpressive. as soon as montgomery had won the battle, largely through very good preparation rather than tactical brilliance, he did become a hero. they were desperate for that sort of hero at the time. montgomery became almost
fatuous in the way that he was carried away by his self-image at that particular time. >> you have a little bit of a scene where you compare montgomery with our general clark. i did not know montgomery was that short. >> yes. >> and clark was that tall. >> yes. >> what was their relationship? >> one of jealousy. his own staff were dubious about this obsession. they refer to the way that he made sure his imperial profile was photographed by the right side. the referred to him as marcus aurelius clark, and he was intensely distrustful of montgomery.
montgomery then went back for the preparations for d-day. clark became more obsessed. he printed in his own memoirs that he threatened that if the british got there first, he would actually fire on them. this is one of the few cases in the second world war that the charisma of leadership can affect. >> how many books do you think you have had to read in order to write this book? >> a huge number. a couple of thousand. you could go on reading all your life, searching all your life, and he would never finish it completely. >> for some reason or other, you picked one human being to lead your book off. a picture of a man who died in illinois who had quite a history. who was he?
what is his story? >> he was a young korean. at age 18, he was grabbed by the japanese and forced into the army in manchuria. korea was a japanese colony. he was there in the japanese army when they had a major clash with the red army in august of 1939. that, for me, is the start of the war. the battle of khalkin-gol on the manchurian frontier is one of the most influential. we are only talking about 60,000 men on one side. in comparison to the future conflicts later on, it was pretty small, but it was very influential in the way that it persuaded the japanese not to try to fight the soviet union. and that is what led to pearl harbor. he was captured by russians at this particular battle at khalkin-gol, put into a labor camp among thousands of other
prisoners. later, the russians and grabbed him and thousands of other prisoners and forced him into a red army uniform to fight the germans. he was then captured by the germans in 1943. the germans, later on, put him in their uniform, along with lots of other russian prisoners. he was forced to serve in the eastern battalion in normandy. with the landing of american paratroopers on the peninsula, he was captured then, finally, by americans and taken back to england where he was put in a prison camp and then at the united states. having been all around the world, he then settled in the united states when he was
released at the end of the war and died in illinois in 1992. the point is not just that he emphasizes the global aspect of the war. it shows that most people had no control over their own fate. >> where did you find it? when did you decide to open your book with it? >> when i came across the accounts and tried to double check it, it grabbed my imagination because the special operations executive in italy -- he had always told the story of how a german soldier of an asian origin had been captured by the british. nobody could find out where he was from because they could not
find what language he spoke. finally, there was an english priest who had been attached to one of the divisions, who had been a missionary in india. he spoke tibetan. this man collapsed in tears. good was the first time yet heard his language in years. he had been picked up at the edge of tibet and pushed into the army. i heard that story as a child. when i heard that story, it had a huge resonance for me. >> a couple of quick things. where did most of the fighting come from? where did the most people get killed? >> without any doubt on the eastern front. the borderland of poland,
belarus, the baltic states, and ukraine. that is where the bulk were killed, in prison camps, death camps, but also in soviet prisoners to start to death after being captured by germans. you are talking about huge numbers of figures. the west made major contributions in terms of -- a vast contribution to the soviet victory, but there is no doubt that it was the soviet union that broke the germans' back. where did the americans lose the most people?
>> on the whole, the casualties in the final year started in a pretty large way in europe. the casualties in the pacific were on the whole heavier. >> you are british. some of the american people, from your perspective, how do the americans do in world war ii? >> americans made the huge contribution, not just in terms of the human sacrifice in the far east, but the marines and the army there in north africa, in the d-day, in the fighting in northwest europe. the industrial contribution was simply staggering. one of the favorite things i put in the book is an american general who said that the u.s. army does not solve its
problems, it overwhelms them. the industry, a cornucopia of tanks, aircraft, ships on production lines. one of the most astonishing achievements in history. no doubt about it. the reason why the russians got to berlin before the americans was simply because american trucks had been given to the soviet union had made advances in 1943 and 1944 possible. that is not popular when you tell russian historians that. >> where were we weak? >> the weakness was only right at the beginning. like every army entering a war, it is a civilian army that had been swollen. the size of the american army went from a little more than 100,000 to 8 million. that was one of the astonishing achievement under governor marshall. there'll be a weakness at the beginning. until you have been bloodied in battle. the british were very arrogant in referring to the americans as green troops and so forth. in fact, the americans learned their lessons very quickly.
church of use to make a joke that the americans always do the right thing in the end, having tried everything else beforehand. that is certainly unfair. the americans learned very fast and more quickly on the job than the british did. >> this is near the end and jumped out. it is rather precise. roosevelt, looking old and frail, his mouth hanging open most of the time, sometimes did not appear to follow what was gone on. you are talking about yalta. did we make a mistake having him at that table? >> the state of his health was kept completely secret. it associates and companions to say, mr. president, are you sure you are not out of it? his great obsession was to leave a legacy of peace in the world. he thought he could do that,
that he could charm stalin into supporting his project of the united nations. in a way, this huge mistake was that he completely underestimated the ruthlessness of stalin and his total contempt for any democratic ideal. he became increasingly horrified. he announced that he would withdraw troops in europe, which was music to his ears. churchill was at one stage even contemplating the idea that we should push the russians back to force them to behave. i think that it was one of the great dangers. the main failing of roosevelt was the belief, and excessive belief in his own charm and ability to win stalin around to his way of thinking. >> who was worse, stalin, hitler, or mao? >> one of the more interesting remarks was made by a great
russian dissident. this is a reference to stalin and hitler. although stalin killed more people than hitler, hitler still had to be defeated first. if hitler had won, the hunter plan alone counted on a 30 million russians died of starvation. in the case of mao, it is again a question of figures. 60 million chinese died. as many as the entire second world war in this famines. >> this is after the war. >> yes.
during the great leap forward, the cultural revolution -- it was a madness of the most terrifying form. how does one calculate the figures of deaths through famine or disease as a result of malnutrition? it is hard to define these figures. >> there was a quote in here where you quote teddy white, who was such a prominent figure when he wrote about the elections in the 1960's. he described mao as a better deal. >> there was a lot of new deal idealism.
certainly, up more and more historians now are thinking that chiang kai-shek has had a bad deal in history. he had a lot of problems, and there was a lot of corruption in his own organization, but when you see what mounted later, the witch hunts of and the opponents, the humiliation and destruction of almost anybody who might be slightly dubious or opposed mao's personal command -- unless you absolutely bowed down to him as a god, you were regarded as an enemy. this was madness, frankly, but it was terrifying that so many people would be able to bury the story the chinese communists were putting down, that they were fighting the japanese and the nationalists for doing nothing.
he is giving orders to his troops -- do not take on the japanese. we need to keep our ammunition ready for the civil war that will follow the second world war. >> i want to show you video of a man you know and ask you about him. this is back in 2003. >> i hitler's real mistake was not to have planned his scientific program better than he did. the japanese navy was enormously successful in the development of critical military technology between 1936 and 1944. by 1944, the germans had the technological achievements to their credit. they had built and flown the first helicopter, built and
flown the first jet aircraft, they had built and flown the first cruise missile. they had built and flown the first extra-administered missile, the v-2. but all these weapons were either not fully developed or came too late into production. >> what impact did sir john keegan have on your life? >> a great deal. i studied military history under him. he was a wonderful influence in the way that he was provocative in the sense that he made us
think of things from a completely different angle. we all, every military historian has drawn a huge debt. his first book, his important book, which was "the face of battle," this was the first time military history had been looked at from below instead of generals and staff officers trying to impose an order that never existed on the battlefield. the notion that they were chess grandmasters. he turned upside down. as a result, we have always been in his debt. >> where is he today? >> he is at home. he is not well, i am afraid. he is bedridden, in fact. incredibly brave -- he has suffered from bad health. it has been particularly cruel
in recent years. >> he had a severe handicap with one of his legs. polio? >> from childhood, yes. in a way, he had always been fascinated as a small boy with d-day. when he saw all the troops assembling and the rest of it. he knew he could never go with them. but one reason why he is such a good military historian is that, although he could never be in the army, he was fascinated by the role of problems. his sympathy for soldiers and anybody involved in through his
sympathetic imagination. >> if you had a room full of young students who wanted to do what you have done, what would you start to tell them about being a historian? >> the first rule of the historian is to understand. it is not to make more judgments. that should be left to the reader. you do not go into an archive -- you go into an archive with fixed ideas, the best thing that could happen to you is to find that those fixed ideas are completely wrong. then you find something new and interesting. i am very opposed to the german idea that you should have a thesis and support it with material. that means you are selecting the material to suit your individual prejudice. the vital thing is to try to keep your mind as open as possible. you are never going to get it entirely right. there will always be more material in the future. but you have got to make the best work and the best effort. >> what was the first thing you ever successfully wrote?
>> it depends on the degree of success. the one which broke out, in a way, was stalingrad. that has done fairly well. that was the one that went international and was translated into 30 languages or more. >> what year? >> that was 1998. >> what intrigued you about stalingrad to make a book out of it? >> the reason was that the russian archives had just opened. i had already worked there on another book about paris after the liberation. the whole point about stalingrad was that we knew more or less the military story, the tactical story, even. we had very little idea of what it was really like for soldiers on the ground and civilians. caught up in the city and trapped.
the children, orphans, living almost like animals off of plants to survive. i could not believe that one person was still alive in the city after five months of battle. the potential of getting at those archives in the ministry of defense south of moscow, that was really where the vital material late. >> are those closed now? >> yes. i'm afraid so. >> why did they close them? >> they were opened under yeltsin. he forced the military into opening their archives.
they then were very uneasy. they had never dealt with foreign historians before. it was a mixture of paranoia and the naivete, dealing with those archives. i remember that the general in charge, the general staff in the ministry of defense said that we have a simple rule, you tell us the subject, we should you the files. there was no point in telling them that that was not how other archives work. the closing came before our berlin book came out -- soon after i finished the research. by that stage, they were checking on all material taken out by foreign historians. it started becoming completely paranoid. it was just after 2000 that a close to the archives to foreign researchers. >> your former teacher has an opinion of what could have happened in world war ii. i will run that and see what you think you had he developed a nuclear weapon -- >> had he developed a nuclear weapon, had the v-2 in production early enough, he
would have won. he would have bombarded london, the invasion parts. the day could not have taken place. he would have destroyed the american armies in britain. having done so, he could have dictated his own terms. eventually, the americans would have brought their only nuclear-weapons to the practical stage, as they did in 1945. there would be all kinds of bombardment in europe by nuclear weapons. that would have been too late. hitler would have frustrated the allied efforts to win the war by consensual means. >> did hitler try to build a nuclear bomb? >> hitler did not seem to be
very interested in that. one of the bizarre developments. the german nuclear scientists made one major mathematical mistake, from what i can understand. they completely misinterpreted or misestimated what the critical mass would need to be to create the bomb. even if they had the right uranium and the rest, the bomb would need to be almost the size of the house, and would not be deliverable in any form. the american, british, and other scientists working at the manhattan project had worked out that this was not necessary. he is right. if they had made the bomb delivery systems, hitler would not have at all been a diverse about destroying britain as a form of revenge, particularly after the strategic bombing campaign on germany, which had angered him.
his generals persuaded him against it. the prevailing wind in europe is westerly. most of it would have been blown back onto german troops if they had used against allied troops. >> we only have a few minutes. looking at germany today, a lot of germans came here and helped us build our weapons. what do you see in germany today? in the context of what is going on in europe. >> i am worried for germany. i do not think the germans have realized to what degree there economy has been taken hostage by the desperate countries. i think that the implications are simply terrifying in that particular way. germany, even with its astonishingly powerful economy, is not in a position to
basically bail out the whole of the rest of europe. to have one bailout after another, which buys you no time at all, is not achieving anything. >> last question, antony, we have anthony in the united states -- is it the same name? >> there have been different theories. ane always spelled without h. >> is a pronounced "anthony?" >> yes. >> the next book? >> my next book will be about the winter of 1944, particularly the battle of the bulge. i'm fascinated by the german belief that they might win something in this last, desperate gamble. >> the name of this book is "the second world war." our guest is antony beevor. thank you very much. >> thank you.